Some see this holiday film — directed by Chris Columbus and written and produced by John Hughes — as a seasonal favorite. I see it as a story of bad parenting, exacerbated by the fact that they allowed the same situation to happen a year later, and a child driven to cruelty by the way he has been raised.
The entire horrifying McCallister family is leaving Chicago for Christmas in Paris. Peter (John Heard) and Kate’s (Catherine O’Hara) youngest son Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) is constantly being berated by the entire extended family and ends up having to spend the night in the attic, at which point he tells his mother that he wishes the entire family would disappear. That night, the power goes out, the family nearly misses their flight and Kevin is left home.
Have you ever been in a midwest attic in winter? It’s no place for a child to sleep.
Now Kevin must deal with the Wet Bandits — Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) — as well as connect Old Man Marley (Roberts Blossom, who was Ezra Cobb in Deranged, a role that’s referenced by how all the kids think he was a serial killer) with his family and his mom must get back home to see her son on Christmas, aided by Gus Polinski (John Candy) and the Kenosha Kickers, the polka kings of the midwest.
Candy did his scenes as a favor and shot all of them in 23 hours, improvising everything, including his tale of leaving one of his kids at a funeral home. Candy was already a big star yet he was only paid $414 for his part, one that kind of makes the movie for me, while this movie made $474 million dollars.
I think it’s funny that Pesci hated being in this movie. He kept telling the crew that his dialogue was not of a quality commensurate with his acting ability and he disliked the early calls — Culkin could not work after ten p.m. — which kept him from playing golf. He also hated that he couldn’t swear on set.
Throughout the movie, Kevin annihilates Harry and Marv, which left Culkin with a scar in a scene and gave Pesci burns to his scalp. Columbus said of these scenes, “Every time the stunt guys did one of those stunts it wasn’t funny. We’d watch it, and I would just pray that the guys were alive.”
I really think that the attacks on the Wet Bandits are so brutal that there’s no way they would survive.
Is that your holiday fun?
Maybe I was too old for this, as my wife love watching it. I just never could get into the fact that Kevin comes from a rich family that can barely take care of him, he frequently magically fixes the lives of old near homeless people and then crushes the dreams of the lower class who have had to resort to crime to survive. I mean, the second movie literally has Kevin interact with Trump and bully the staff of a hotel because he has his father’s credit card. I have no sympathy or worry for him.